Justin Guarini

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Justin Guarini
Justin Guarini.jpg
Background information
Birth name Justin Eldrin Bell
Born (1978-10-28) October 28, 1978 (age 36)
Columbus, Georgia
Origin Doylestown, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres Jazz, soul, funk, R&B, pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, actor, television host
Instruments Piano, guitar, vocals
Years active 2002–present
Labels RCA Records (2002-03)
Justice Entertainment, Ltd.
Website JustinGuarini.com

Justin Guarini (born Justin Eldrin Bell; October 28, 1978) is an American singer/songwriter and actor who rose to fame in 2002 as the first runner-up on the debut season of the television show American Idol.

Early life

Guarini was born in Columbus, Georgia. His father, Eldrin Bell, is African American, and is a former Atlanta, Georgia, Chief of Police, and former Chairperson of Clayton County Commission (Georgia). His mother, Kathy Pepino Guarini, is Italian American, and was a journalist for WTVM TV in Columbus, and later for CNN. Guarini was primarily raised by his mother and stepfather, physicist Jerry Guarini, in Philadelphia's suburb of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.1



Guarini's musical experience started at the age of four when he was accepted by the Atlanta Boy Choir. After moving to Pennsylvania in 1985, he joined the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Boys Choir. Throughout his school years Guarini sang in school choirs, and from 1996-2000 was the lead soloist in an award winning a cappella group named The Midnight Voices. The group released an independent album in 1999 with proceeds benefiting a music scholarship fund at Guarini's alma mater, Central Bucks High School East in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He was a director/performer at the Riverside Haunted Woods in Bridgeton, Pennsylvania in 2001.

His high school and college theater credits include the lead roles in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Little Prince, The Pirates of Penzance, The Taming of the Shrew, and Once on This Island. In addition to singing and stage performing, Guarini plays the piano and guitar.

After studying vocal performance and theater studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Guarini later moved to New York City where he attended the School for Film and Television. He worked in New York nightclubs, and auditioned for New York Theater before successfully auditioning for American Idol in April 2002. Shortly after being chosen for American Idol, he was offered a role in the Broadway production of The Lion King. Guarini wrote about his decision between the two offers in his exclusive 2008 blog for the television site, Fancast, stating, "I had attended master classes… I learned Zulu and Sotho phrases, as well as the music from the show. It was a dream almost come true at the time. But, now I knew I was onto something, and I wasn’t letting go. I politely declined the offer of a role...". He was also considering a contract offer from an independent record label, but the show's rules prohibited participants from having existing record contracts.

American Idol

Idol judge Simon Cowell praised Guarini's performance in the show's first season, at one early audition telling him "Justin, you know, occasionally you're very privileged when you do a competition like this to hear somebody undiscovered who has a voice like yours." Guarini ultimately becoming the runner-up to winner Kelly Clarkson in September 2002. Soon after, Guarini signed with American Idol's 19 Management and secured a record deal with RCA. Prior to the American Idol Tour, he was the only contestant asked to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show, on which Oprah Winfrey told him, "Justin, you have it." After reviews during the American Idol Tour describing Guarini as a "revelation" (Los Angeles Times), "easily the best performer" (Boston Herald), Guarini's career appeared ready to take off.

American Idol performances

Week Theme Song Sung Artist Order Result
Top 30 Semifinal Group 2 "Ribbon in the Sky" Stevie Wonder 10 Advanced
Top 10 Motown "For Once in My Life" Stevie Wonder 6 Safe
Top 8 1960s "Sunny" Bobby Hebb 7 Safe
Top 7 1970s "Someday We'll All Be Free" Donny Hathaway 4 Bottom 2
Top 6 Big Band "Route 66" Nat King Cole 2 Safe
Top 5 Burt Bacharach Love Songs "The Look of Love" Dusty Springfield 4 Safe
Top 4 1980s
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
"Get Here"
Michael Jackson
Oleta Adams
Top 3 Idol's Choice
Judges' Choice
"Let's Stay Together"
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Al Green
Elton John
Top 2 Finale "Before Your Love"
"Get Here"
"A Moment Like This"
Justin Guarini
Oleta Adams
Justin Guarini


His self-titled album, Justin Guarini, debuted in June 2003, coinciding with the single releases of the current second season American Idol top two finalists and the movie From Justin to Kelly, in which Guarini co-starred with Kelly Clarkson. The album sold 134,000 copies and in December 2003 Guarini was dropped from RCA Records.2

In concert - 2006

Guarini co-produced his second album Stranger Things Have Happened, independently released in December 2005 through his own production company, Justice Entertainment, Ltd.. The album of reinvented jazz standards was described by Allmusic as "a successful reinvention... where his natural skills shine", The Philadelphia Inquirer said that "Guarini displays an agile, attractive voice with good phrasing, supported by a sophisticated and funky backing ensemble."

In May 2008, Guarini released an acoustic EP titled Revolve comprising three songs ("Sweet Time", "Rock Bottom", and "When She Cries") co-written and co-produced with Shaun Ingram. Versions of the songs are planned to be included on his third solo album.

Additionally, he has completed music-related projects with other artists, including an album with David Hughes, a benefit song release with H.H. Gayuna Cealo, and a song for the documentary series Project Everlasting, launched August 2006 and featured on the Today Show. The title track from his album Stranger Things Have Happened is also used in the documentary.

He continues to produce and release music through his own production company, Justice Entertainment, while also working in television for the TV Guide Network.

Acting and hosting

Aside from the film From Justin to Kelly, Guarini's acting/entertainment-related projects include a 2004 role in the pre-Broadway New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater workshop/presentation of the musical Good Vibrations at Vassar College. His performance (which included singing, dancing, acting, and playing guitar) landed Guarini an offer to continue the role in the original Broadway production of the musical Good Vibrations, which he eventually declined.3 He continues to act in independent film projects such as the drama/action film Fast Girl, The Unknown: Frankie The Squirrel, Mafioso II: The Son, and the short film Tilt-a-Whirl for the Dances With Films Film Festival.

Some of his television appearances include a musical spoof for AMC's FilmFakers (2004), guest role in Run of the House, guest host/co-host for shows including Regis and Kelly (2003), VH1's Top 20 Countdown (2004), ManiaTV!'s U Pick 'Em and Too Short for Hollywood (2006), the guest host on the TV Guide Network (2006), and the CMT reality show Gone Country, Season 3 (2009).

In 2007, the TV Guide Network signed him as permanent co-host for Idol Wrap and Idol Tonight. His on-air duties with the network soon expanded to include guest hosting/appearances on other TV Guide Network shows, hosting movie premiere specials, and serving as a member of TV Guide Network's awards show team with on-air coverage of awards shows such as the Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards. He's also a recurring commentator for such shows/networks as the Today Show, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Style Channel, Comcast, and Larry King Live.

In 2010, Guarini was cast in his Broadway debut as Carlos in the original Broadway adaptation of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.4 Guarini played the part of Will in American Idiot performing March 1, 2011 through the show's closing on April 24, 2011.5 From 2013-2014, he played Paris in the Broadway revival of Romeo and Juliet. Guarini joined the Broadway production of Wicked, in the role of Fiyero from February 25 to December 14, 2014.67

In 2015, Guarini starred in a Diet Dr Pepper commercial as "Lil' Sweet."8

Theater roles

Personal life

While stepping out to support the opening of The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios17 in February 2009, Guarini confirmed his impending marriage to his fiancee, Reina Capodici. In an exclusive pictorial of the wedding, People reported that the couple were married on September 26, 2009.18 On April 26, 2011 his first child with Capodici was born named William Neko Bell Guarini.19


A music education advocate, Guarini has been a national spokesperson for Support Music Education since 2004, speaking and performing at events such as the annual NAACP Leadership 500 Summit. In March 2005, he was part of a delegation which met with members of Congress, and later performed/emceed at a private gala concert for Congress, their families, and staff. In 2006, he received the NAMM "Music for Life" Award for his work in support of music education. According to the American Music Conference, "the NAMM Music for Life Award, created in 1990, recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments of individuals who play a significant role in promoting music education in the nation's schools and whose dedication to music and music education serves as an inspiration to others." On October 19, 2009, Guarini performed in a benefit for Education Through Music-Los Angeles along with jazz greats Patti Austin, Johnny Mathis, and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band.citation needed

He has also participated in raising funds for charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Rockers on Broadway, Broadway's Kitchen Sink, Children's World Organization, Foundation for Global Harmony, and various children's hospitals across the country.citation needed



Studio albums

Year Album details Peak Certifications
(sales threshold)
1999 The Midnight Voices
  • As lead vocalist
  • Released: 1999
  • US sales: N/A
2003 Justin Guarini 20
  • US sales:146,00020
2005 Stranger Things Have Happened
  • Released: December, 2005
  • Label: Justice Entertainment, Ltd
  • US sales: N/A
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Other contributions

  • Foreign Shores by David Hughes (July 2007) (featured vocalist)


  • Revolve (Acoustic) (May 2008)


  • Did You Know That I Know Your Journey? (2006) (vocals, music, co-produced)
  • Everlasting for documentary Project Everlasting (2006) (vocals, music, lyrics, piano)
  • What You Won't Do for Love for Drivetime Reflections (2010) (vocals)


  1. ^ "nydailynews.com". 
  2. ^ Moss, Corey (2003-12-02). "Where's Justin Guarini These Days? Not On RCA Records, Apparently - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  3. ^ Idol Star Guarini Leaves Company of Good Vibrations
  4. ^ Justin Guarini Joins Broadway's Women on the Verge; Casting Complete playbill.com, August 19, 2010
  5. ^ "Davey Havok, Justin Guarini, Van Hughes Will Be New Leads of Broadway's American Idiot". Playbill.com. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  6. ^ Amabile Angermiller, Michele (February 5, 2014). "Justin Guarini Nabs Lead in 'Wicked' on Broadway". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  7. ^ Gioia, Michael (November 20, 2014). "Caroline Bowman and Kara Lindsay Will Be Broadway's New Wicked Witches; Robin De Jesus, Matt Shingledecker to Also Join Cast". Playbill. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Diet Dr Pepper – Lil’ Sweet Self Employed". youtube.com. 2015-02-19. 
  9. ^ Guarini to star in 'Good Vibrations'
  10. ^ Justin Guarini's 'AWAKENING'
  11. ^ Full Cast Announced for Justin Guarini-Led RENT at Surflight
  12. ^ Justin Guarini to Star in Media Theatre's CHICAGO This Fall
  13. ^ Talking with Justin Guarini, starring in ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’
  14. ^ Justin Guarini Will Star in Muny Production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  15. ^ Playbill.com Christian Camargo, Justin Guarini and Roslyn Ruff are among the latest actors to join the new interracial Broadway production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
  16. ^ Christine Dwyer, Jenni Barber, Justin Guarini & More to Join Cast of WICKED in February Broadway World, Retrieved February 3, 2014
  17. ^ "‘American Idol’ Alumni Justin Guarini Planning Summer Wedding | Access Hollywood - Celebrity News, Photos & Videos". Access Hollywood. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  18. ^ American Idol's Justin Guarini Marches Down the Aisle
  19. ^ "Justin Guarini Welcomes Son William Neko – Moms & Babies – Moms & Babies - People.com". Celebritybabies.people.com. 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  20. ^ Washington Post 05-23-2011

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